What Engerix-B is used for

Engerix-B is a vaccine used to prevent Hepatitis B infection. The vaccine works by aiding the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against this disease.
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease, which can affect the liver. This disease is caused by the Hepatitis B virus.

The Hepatitis B virus is found in body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions or saliva of infected people. You can catch the virus if it enters your bloodstream. Ways this can happen are through:

  • injection (e.g. needlestick injury, or sharing needles for IV drug use)
  • sexual intercourse
  • sores, cuts or tiny wounds coming into contact with infected fluids (e.g. from a human bite, sharing razors or toothbrushes, or working with human blood or body fluids)
  • an infected mother passing the virus onto her baby during or shortly after birth.

Some people infected with hepatitis B may not look or feel sick yet others will get symptoms. Symptoms may not appear for 6 weeks to 6 months after infection. Sometimes people will only have mild flu-like symptoms, but other people can become very ill. They may be extremely tired, and have dark urine, pale faeces, yellowish skin and/or eyes (jaundice), and other symptoms possibly requiring hospitalisation. There is a risk of serious liver disease, such as cirrhosis (liver scarring) and liver cancer for all chronic hepatitis B carriers.

Some groups of people are at a higher risk of exposure to hepatitis B.

Vaccination is recommended for these people:

  • some healthcare workers
  • abusers of injectable drugs
  • people with many sexual partners
  • homosexual men
  • haemodialysis patients or people who receive certain blood products
  • people with chronic liver disease or hepatitis C
  • people in contact with a hepatitis B carrier or an infected person
  • staff and residents of institutions or homes
  • inmates and prison staff at some correctional institutions
  • some travellers to areas where the incidence of hepatitis B is high.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against infection in the longer term. It may also help reduce disease complications such as chronic active hepatitis and liver cirrhosis as well as incidence of a type of liver cancer known as primary hepatocellular carcinoma.

Immunoglobulin protects you from Hepatitis B straight away but is only effective for a short time (8-12 weeks).

Engerix-B will not protect against hepatitis caused by other agents or viruses (such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis C or Hepatitis E). If a person is already infected with the Hepatitis B virus at the time of vaccination, Engerix-B may not prevent the disease in these people.

Consumer Medicine Information on Engerix-B.

Engerix-B® (recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine) is available in a 1.0mL dose, containing 20mcg of hepatitis B surface antigen and a 0.5mL dose, containing 10mcg of hepatitis B surface antigen. Engerix-B is a private purchase prescription medicine for the prevention of Hepatitis B infection. You will need to pay for this medicine.  Do not have an Engerix-B vaccination if: you have an extremely high temperature or you have an allergy to any component of the vaccine or have had an allergic reaction to Engerix-B previously.  Tell your doctor if you have: a fever, if you have liver disease, if you are on dialysis, are pregnant or have an impaired immune system.  Common side effects: fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, headache, irritability, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or health professional.  Additional Consumer Medicine Information for Engerix-B is available at www.medsafe.govt.nz.  Normal doctor's office visit fees apply.  Ask your doctor if Engerix-B is right for you.

Engerix-B is a trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies.  Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Limited, Auckland. TAPS DA89KH/08MY/066

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